Unsafe workplace conditions account for approximately 3 million deaths annually. According to a United Nations report, death occurs every 15 seconds due to unhealthy workplace conditions. Edmund Burke is quoted as saying, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
This previous quote speaks volumes and gives the logic behind having the courage to stand up and speak out against unsafe workplace conditions. In the guide that follows, we will highlight the reasons why you should report unsafe work conditions.
1. Legal Violations
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is charged with the task of identifying the regulations regarding workplace safety standards. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, codified the authorization of a Secretary of Labor to establish workplace health standards and enforce these regulations at a federal level.
The passage of this bill means that the violation of the regulations identified within the bill constitutes a violation of federal law. If you spot conditions or practices that violate OSHA regulations, reporting these instances can potentially save lives.
There are six types of OSHA violations that you should familiarize yourself with:
- De Minimis Violations: technical violations that don’t directly impact health or safety
- Serious Violations: situations that can result in serious injury or death
- Other-than-Serious Violations: issues that won’t necessarily result in serious injury or death, but may compromise worker safety
- Willful Violations: involve intentional violations to OSHA standards
- Repeated Violations: employer continuing to violate standards that they have been cited for previously
- Failure to Abate Prior Violation: employer fails to remedy a violation by the specified cure date
2. Right to Safe Workplace
Workers are already under enough pressure to perform their jobs on a daily basis without having to think about their safety being senselessly threatened by OSHA violations. Unsafe working conditions should be reported to help protect the safety of all workers in the facility.
Workers are often intimidated by the authority of their employers. They fear retaliation and retribution subsequent to their rightful actions of reporting unsafe conditions. It is important to note that retaliation for whistleblowing is also a legal violation, and whistleblowers are protected by laws that prohibit employers from seeking retribution against them.
3. Prevents Culture of Hazardous Conditions
When actions and conditions go unchecked, they often result in creating more of the same. The result is that a culture of hazardous conditions and conduct become commonplace in the work environment.
A negative corporate culture is created when there are a variety of things that are discordant in the workplace. These variables often lead to unsafe practices and conditions. Among these variables are the following:
- Poor internal communication
- Hyper-competitive environment
- Bad habits
- Low managerial engagement
- Poor management and leadership
4. People can be Injured
If you have ever witnessed a co-worker being seriously injured in the workplace, you know the lasting impact that this can have on you personally. It often leads to thoughts of how this unfortunate occurrence could have been mitigated. Is there something that someone could have done to eliminate the threat of harm? This is a critical question.
We cannot overstate the fact that millions of people die around the world annually due to hazards in the workplace. In most cases, there is something that could have been done to stop these deaths from occurring. Some common practices that can result in serious injury are:
- Improper lifting
- Overloading materials
- Improper training or failure to train employees
- Failing to use safety devices
- Failing to label or mislabeling chemicals
- Improper use of the protective gear
- Operating machinery in ways contrary to safety standards
- Standing beneath heavy workloads and scaffolding
- Smoking is prohibited areas
5. It’s the Right Thing to do
It is obvious that reporting violations of safety hazards can have some devastating consequences. Far too often, people pass the buck on these issues thinking that it is not their place to step in and say something about these issues.
The truth is, that if something happens to someone and you know that you could have spoken up to do something about it, your failure to take the appropriate action will surely haunt you.
It’s clear that reporting unsafe work conditions is necessary to maintain a workplace that has a few injuries and work-related deaths as possible. If you see any hazards in your surroundings at work, it is your duty and right to report these conditions. Speaking out just might save you or a co-worker from serious bodily harm.